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Unmanned Cargo Update #5

Issue #: 5 (202305)

TECHNOLOGY:

Overair - Butterfly eVTOL

  • This is a sporty design that uses larger propellers to push more air while turning the propellers slower, this can generate more thrust using less power and making less noise. An all electric propulsion system will also contribute to the expected overall low sound signature of this platform.

  • Very interesting testing methodology used by Overair. Propulsion unit mounted on a truck used as a mobile test cell. Full scale flight vehicle "coming soon", however I haven't seen pictures or videos of a test scale aircraft. Have any of the readers in our community?

  • Given each rotor diameter is 20ft and there are 4 on this aircraft. I can't imagine this vehicle fitting into anything smaller than a 60x60 foot landing pad for normal commercial operations. Definitely a vertiport focused design.

The flying Swiss Army Knife

  • Interesting to learn in this article about Dufour Aerospace that one of the three founding partners is American. Hopefully the company will make plans to enter the U.S. market.

  • Certification of the Aero2 is currently underway. The EU path to certification could sneak up on a lot of American unmanned OEM's. As soon as these aircraft are certified and start operating in Europe, they have gained a head start on gathering durability/reliability/operational data for FAA certification.

  • Looks like Time On Target Solutions will have to strike a deal with Blueberry Aviation if we want to get our hands on one of the first 100 copies of the Aero2.

Airplane Geeks Podcast: 736 Autonomous Aircraft

  • Great questions asked about the real world operational procedures and hurdles for unmanned delivery.

  • Very eye opening understanding of how the current regional cargo operates. (Min 6:20) Mr. Lawrence does a great job of laying out in plain terms the requirements for conducting unmanned cargo delivery ops. (MIN 10:59)

  • If you do nothing else start at (Min 24:40) to hear how Xwing sees the future of unmanned delivery ops for pilots. Theoretically in my view the industry could further divide into two subsets which could be independent businesses/models. Piloting services, and Handling/Maintenance services.

POLICY:

US senators introduce bi-partisan legislation to speed BVLOS drone flight approvals

  • Increasing Competitiveness for American Drones Act of 2023, legislation to streamline the approvals process for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights and clear the way for drones to be used for commercial transport of goods across the country.

  • The bill requires the FAA to establish a “risk methodology,” which will be used to determine what level of regulatory scrutiny is required. Weight categories are listed as: >55lb / 55lb - 1320lbs / <1320lbs

  • In addition, the proposed legislation would create the position of “Associate Administrator of UAS Integration” and a central rulemaking body for UAS, allowing for a more uniform and hopefully focused process.

INFRASTRUCTURE:

Skyway CEO Sees 'Near-Zero' Redadiness for AMM Infrastructure

  • Skyway is a technology company that builds infrastructure and communications systems for vertiports and autonomous aviation.

  • eVTOL & autonomous aircraft OEM's have raised hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars of investments to date. By contrast, most independently owned vertiport companies have struggled to raise more than a few million dollars in the capital markets.

  • After talking with Cliff and the Skyway team, it was very interesting to learn that their technology scales all the way up and down UAS size categories, will become an important part of the AAM ecosystem, and will also be utilized by eVTOL operators.

BUSINESS:

Volatus Aerospace bags license for drone cargo services in Canada

  • Volatus is conducting these activities anticipating both FAA & Transport Canada regulatory changes.

  • In January 2022, Volatus announced that it was procuring Natilus Kona uncrewed, long-distance cargo drones to create a bridge between its smaller UAV services and Avidrone heavy-lift activities.

  • Like Time On Target Solutions, Volatus will count on the existing >55 lb commercial UAS market to pay the bills until full scale unmanned cargo delivery is a possibility.

Drone Visionaries Interview: NUAIR defines the future of technology by "already doing it"

  • Ken Stewart highlights the aviation version of the chicken/egg conundrum "you can't fly until you're safe. And you can't prove you're safe until you fly." NUAIR solves the third piece of that problem by providing the airspace and operational oversight to safely conduct UAS testing.

  • Given Ken's examples it seems the typical NUAIR customer is an OEM looking to certify their aircraft AND operations. The common manufacturer/operator scenario.

  • He hits it right on the head with this statement and this mirrios my experience in the UAS industry to this point. " Of course, that different way [of problem solving] might not take into account operational realities and the level of safety required."

Overair CEO Details Surprise Visit from South Korean Minister

  • South Korea’s Hanwha Group conglomerate, has invested $170 million in Overair to help it develop and certify the Butterfly.

  • Relationship building in Korean business culture is extremely important, from my personal experience. I have been to Hanwha Group's headquarters in Seoul and it is a very impressive company. I look forward to seeing these aircraft in the skies as Hanawa has developed some amazing technologies.

  • They are strategically dragging their feet in development given the unstable regulatory environment. Smart move, hopefully they preserve their cash to go full tilt once eVTOL certification standards are solidified.

Ameriflight Signs Agreement for Saberwing VTOL Air Cargo Drones

  • Utilization of the Saberwing aircraft will be a complimentary/expanded service to Ameriglight's existing operations. This indicates the unique capabilities of this aircraft and others like it will create market share in the air cargo industry.

  • Notice any gaps in Ameriglight's geographical coverage? Cany anyone fill in the gaps for regional air cargo operators in the South East?

  • I remember when this aircraft set the Commercial UAS "deadlift record" last year. The Rhaegal RG-1 is an amazing machine that utilizes a turbine engine as its power source, ducted fans for thrust, and wings for lift in forward flight.

READER SUBMISSIONS:

ModCar Systems - Modular Cargo Systems

Shared with us via Linked In by Noah Ruiz of Soaring Eagles Technologies

  • The system shown on the web site is for large aircraft cargo handling, however I can imagine a scaled down version would be highly valuable for unmanned operations.

  • The ModCar aircraft interior system supported by MoonWare ground automation vehicles would be a highly valuable combination.

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